George Sherman, FOX, BOBCAT, BEAR
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George Sherman
FOX, BOBCAT, BEAR
January 29 – March 05 2022

W.U.I.

Marta is privileged to host new works by master ceramicist George Sherman (b. 1945, San Diego). Presented in tandem with Stanley’s Gallery as a natural progression of Sherman’s inaugural and celebrated ‘Clay Work’ (Spring, 2021), ‘FOX, BOBCAT, BEAR’ is the ceramic artist’s second-ever solo exhibition and the first composed entirely of works that renounce function in favor of materiality, diversion, gesture, and form. The exhibition showcases new wall-works (the monumental ‘Clouds’) alongside free-standing and multi-part sculptures that mine the artists fascination with the mechanisms and scenography of sea-faring (Sherman grew up a so-called ‘Navy Brat’) and their abstract relationship to that which is seen-versus-unseen in California’s wilds.

Situated at the meeting point of the sub-urban built environment of residential Pasadena and the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, Sherman’s home studio and ceramics workshop occupies a designation the US Forest Service calls the Wildland-Urban Interface (or W.U.I)—the sort of quintessential chaparral in which one can often hear the animals that they cannot see, as in the aptly named ‘Coyote, Owl’ (2021), which is one of several boat-like forms that turn the idea of the ceramic ‘vessel’ on its head. Fittingly, Sherman’s nearby meter-high totem-like forms variously conjure up periscopes and telescopes; chimneys and smokestacks; ducts and funnels.

A long-time studio technician and adjunct professor (ret. 2018) at institutions like California State University, University of Southern California, and Scripps College, Sherman is not only an educator himself but a product of his time with exemplars of the California Clay Movement, first at Pasadena City College with Philip Cornelius in the late 1960s, and later at UC Irvine with John Mason in the early 1970s.

Viewed through a lens that has seen art historical conversations around ceramics shift drastically over the past decade, Sherman’s clay practice can be viewed simultaneously as a continuation of this regional or vernacular California tradition and a refreshing departure from it, with the artist treating the often-hallowed medium as a modest, almost happenstance means to a formal and narrative end.

Download the Press Release.

Cloud Block, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
35.0 × 75.0 × 3.0 in
89 × 190.5 × 8 cm

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An untitled Cloud work in progress.

West and North Walls

George in his Pasadena studio.

“At the same time ... the state also created a gothic regulatory framework that made most urban and suburban housing outrageously expensive, difficult and slow to build. So, people moved deeper into the W.U.I., or Wildland-Urban Interface — the areas where the human-built landscape bumps up against the natural world.” — EW

Rattlesnake, 2021

Gila Monster, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
4.5 × 31.5 × 3.0 in
11 × 80 × 8 cm

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Rattlesnake, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
4.5 × 31.5 × 3.0 in
11 × 80 × 8 cm

Cottonmouth, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
5.5 × 32.0 × 3.9 in
11 × 81 × 10 cm

Tarantula, 2021

“Sherman’s experience growing up on a Navy base in Japan in the 1950s has proven greatly influential to his practice. This can be seen both in the high-fired textural surfaces of the work, alongside his penchant for complex fabrication techniques to ultimately create eloquently simple forms.” — SG

Corrugate wave-making

West and North Walls

Tarantula, Stealth 2, Stealth 4

Tarantula, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
8.0 × 24.5 × 4.5 in
20 × 62 × 11 cm

Stealth 2, 2022
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
14.75 × 24.0 × 4.0 in
37 × 61 × 10 cm

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Stealth 1, 2022
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
9.75 × 21.75 × 2.75 in.
25 × 55 × 7 cm

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Stealth 4, 2022
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
12.0 × 23.0 × 3.5 in
30 × 59 × 9 cm

Stealth 3, 2022
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
11.0 × 22.0 × 2.75 in.
28 × 56 × 7 cm

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Tarantula, Stealth 1 – 4, Cloud 2

Cloud 2, 2021

“George’s output is equally an homage to the masters of the past as well as a break from tradition: the works create new aesthetic narratives within contemporary ceramics that align the medium with the formal tradition of sculptors and painters like Donald Judd and Blinky Palermo.” — SG

Cloud 2, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
25.0 × 89.0 × 3.0 in
63.5 × 226 × 8 cm

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Studio view with Rotor, January 2021

Rotor, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
36.5 × 12.0 × 8.0 in
93 × 30.5 × 20 cm

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Fox Bobcat Bear, 2021

Fox Bobcat Bear, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
10.0 × 56.0 × 5.0 in
25 × 142 × 13 cm

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Studio view with Coyote Owl, January 2021

Coyote Owl, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
9.0 × 56.0 × 5.0 in
23 × 142 × 13 cm

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Scow, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
11.0 × 44.5 × 10.5 in
28 × 113 × 27 cm

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Scow, Cloud Block, Rattlesnake, Cottonmouth, Gila Monster

South facade, looking West; Scow in foreground

South facade, looking East; Bit and Two-Step in foreground

“The open vessels, which are perhaps the most referential to the work of [Peter] Voulkos and [Sherman’s mentor John] Mason, seem to grow out of the ground; organic in nature yet wily and unknown. These forms more than any other also reference Sherman’s Navy-brat upbringing and the machismo that California ceramics came to be associated with in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Many of these works are created in twos or threes, or ‘families’ as Sherman refers to them. With these waist-high vessels, the glaze chemistry that Sherman employs appears to shine—the glazes have more surface area to travel down during in the intensive firing process. The vessels are totems, trees, barrels, smokestacks, exhaust pipes, and nothing all at the same time.” — SG

Bit, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
37.0 × 12.0 × 8.0 in
94 × 30.5 × 20 cm

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Two-Step, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
36.5 × 12.5 × 7.0 in
93 × 32 × 18 cm

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Western Cloud, untitled matcha work, Bit, Two-Step

Western Cloud, 2021

Western Cloud, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
30.5 × 124.0 × 3.0 in
77.5 × 315 × 8 cm

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Totem / Column works in the Storage Shed

George in the Work Storage Shed

Foreground, Periscope 5; background, Western Cloud

Periscope 5, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
36.5 × 12.0 × 12.0 in
93 × 30 × 30 cm

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Beats, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
36.0 × 14.0 × 7.0 in
91 × 36 × 18 cm

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Colima, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
37.0 × 13.0 × 10.0 in
94 × 33 × 25 cm

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Plum Two-Step, 2021
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
36.0 × 12.5 × 8.0 in.
94 × 32 × 20 cm

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George in his Pasadena studio

Espinas Peligrosas II, 2014–15
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
17.0 × 16.5 × 1.75 in
43 × 42 × 4 cm

Mountain and Cloud Motif, 2014–15
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
15.0 × 15.0 × 1.75 in
38 × 38 × 4 cm

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Sunset View, 2014–15
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
17.0 × 16.5 × 1.75 in
43 × 42 × 4 cm

Espinas Blancas, 2014–15
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
15.0 × 15.0 × 1.75 in
38 × 38 × 4 cm

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El Día y la Noche, 2014–15
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
15.0 × 15.0 × 1.75 in.
38 × 38 × 4 cm

Ferocactus Viridescens, 2014–15
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
17.0 × 16.5 × 1.75 in.
43 × 42 × 4 cm

Two of a Kind, 2014–15
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
15.0 × 15.0 x 1.75 in
38 × 38 × 4 cm

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Blue Barrel, 2014–15
High-fire Stoneware, Glaze
15.0 × 15.0 × 1.75 in.
38 × 38 × 4 cm

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Fox, Bobcat, Bear
January 29 – March 05 2022

Installation photographs by Erik Benjamins.
Studio photographs by Brian Guido.
Quotation (EW) via Elizabeth Weil, The New York Times Magazine.
Quotations (SG) via Sebastian Gladstone, Stanley’s.

Marta

Marta is a gallery that hosts works at the meeting points of art and design. Founded in Los Angeles in 2019, the gallery makes space for artists to experiment with the utility of design, and for designers to explore the occasional abandonment of function. Marta’s curatorial and publication programs take interest in both the process of an object’s creation as well the narrative of its creator(s). Marta embraces the intersection of disciplines, advocates for diversity in design, and promotes access to the arts.